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Parental Leave

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the outcome of the consultation on the changes to parental leave. [9360]

Alan Johnson: We received 46 responses to the consultation, all of which supported our proposals to extend the entitlement to parental leave. I am today publishing the Government's response to the consultation and will place copies in the Libraries of the House and on the Department's website and lay the amending regulations before the House.

Employment Tribunals

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what performance targets she has set for the Employment Tribunals Service for 2001–02. [9361]

Alan Johnson: I have set the Employment Tribunals Service the following performance targets for 2001–02:


Percentage of single Employment Tribunal cases to a first hearing within 26 weeks of receipt75
Minimum to be achieved by all offices in relation to above target65
Percentage of Employment Tribunal decisions issued within four weeks of the final hearing85
Percentage of Employment Tribunal users satisfied with the service offered by ETS85
Percentage of appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal registered for a preliminary hearing ready for listing within six weeks90
Real terms reduction in Employment Tribunal administrative costs 5

The first two figures represent a slight reduction (10 per cent.) on last year's targets. I have made this reduction in recognition of the Service's resources and the anticipated demands on the Service to be made this year.

The targets will be published on the ETS website


Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received on the effectiveness of the Code of Practice on the relationships between supermarkets and farms. [4692]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Director General of Fair Trading consulted with the major supermarkets and over 100 representatives of suppliers on the drafting of the Code of Practice on supermarkets' relations with their suppliers.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has also received representations from supermarkets and supplier organisations on the draft Code. She is currently considering the Director General's advice on the draft Code.

Wind Turbines

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much money the Government spent on promoting the generation of electricity using wind power in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000 and (d) 2000–01; and how much it plans to spend in the current financial year. [7327]

Mr. Wilson: The table shows spending on wind power through the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), the Scottish Renewables Order and the DTI's Sustainable Energy Programme.

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£ million

YearNFFOScottish Renewables OrderDTI's Sustainable Energy Programme

(4) Spend to end June 2001

(5) Estimate only

An up-to-date estimate on the current year's financial expenditure on NFFO should be available following a re-profiling exercise which is currently being undertaken by the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency (NFPA). Spend on wind power will, of course, only be one element of our total spend on renewables. The new Renewables Obligation will create a long-term market for renewables which will be worth over £1 billion per year by 2010. The Obligation will be the main mechanism by which we will meet our renewables targets and will be underpinned by direct Government funding worth over £260 million between 2001 and 2004. This will include an extensive capital grants programme, which will offer at least £49 million for the early deployment of offshore wind.

Small Business Council

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will publish a response to the Small Business Council's annual report. [8278]

Nigel Griffiths: The Government will be responding to the Small Business Council later this year and will make their response public.

Manufacturing (Rural Areas)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what help she makes available to manufacturing industry in rural areas. [8581]

Alan Johnson: Manufacturing companies in rural areas benefit from the policies we are pursuing to help the manufacturing sectors. The Department's support is wide-ranging: from schemes to encourage technology transfer and collaboration with the science base, to work with specific sectors on targeted programmes to enhance their competitiveness, to providing exporting services and regional and local assistance. In certain circumstances it is also possible for manufacturing companies in rural areas to benefit, along with other sectors, from the Regional Development Agencies' Rural Development Programme.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on the proposed de-merger of BT with MmO2 and BT wireless. [8582]

Mr. Alexander: The corporate structure of BT is a matter for the company and their shareholders and not for the Government. However the DTI and the

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Radiocommunications Agency remain in close touch with BT on the proposals and any regulatory concerns that may emerge.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the proposed roll-out of broadband into rural areas. [8583]

Mr. Alexander: The Government are working to ensure that broadband services are available in all parts of the country. To this end we are developing a strategy together with all interested parties. The £30 million fund for regional Development Agencies and the devolved Administrations is focused on extending broadband networks to those who are not offered access by the market, including in rural areas. The Countryside Agency also included broadband access and demand in its "healthchecks" on 100 market towns, while the devolved Administrations are carrying forward their own work on broadband in rural areas with our support and assistance.

In addition, we are examining the scope for aggregating public sector demand in order to speed up the roll-out of broadband services to individuals and businesses in rural and other areas that service providers currently see as uncommercial.

Consumer Complaints

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints her Department has received (1) about (a) The Mortgage Group, (b) i group and (c) Ocwen. [6635]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Under Exemption 4 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, the Department does not comment on whether or not it has received complaints about individual companies.

This is because to do so could prejudice the outcome of any investigation into a complaint and any legal proceedings which might result from an investigation.

Gas and Electricity Suppliers

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 20 July 2001, Official Report, column 584W, to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Simpson), on energy, if she will ask the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets to compile a report on the doorstep selling practices of gas and electricity suppliers. [8075]

Mr. Wilson: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) monitors the performance of gas and electricity suppliers in all areas of marketing and sales, including doorstep selling. Where necessary it will take formal action against individual suppliers. However, in comparison with the high volume of transfers, consumer complaints about direct selling are relatively low. Between January and June 2001, the Gas and Electricity Consumer Council—Energywatch—received an average 0.67 per cent. complaints per 1,000 gas supply transfers and 0.63 per cent. per 1,000 electricity supply transfers. Nonetheless, given the distress that mis-selling can cause, I will shortly write to gas and electricity suppliers setting

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out my concerns about the negative impacts that mis-selling can have, both on individual customers and on the competitive market as a whole.

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